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The Awakening Paperback – Nov 4 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; NEW edition (Nov. 4 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486277860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486277868
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 9 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin's daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the straitened confines of her domestic situation.
Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work "quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity."
Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening. Now available in this inexpensive edition, it offers a powerful and provocative reading experience to modern readers.
Unabridged Dover (1993) republication of the work first published by Herbert S. Stone & Co., Chicago, 1899.

About the Author

A precursor of the 20th century's feminist authors, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote short stories and novels for children and adults. The St. Louis native lived in New Orleans for a dozen years and set most of her tales amid Louisiana's Creole culture. Many of her stories were well ahead of their time, and she achieved widespread acclaim only after her death.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

By A Customer on June 6 2001
Format: Paperback
To begin with, just let me say that I hated this book almost as much as any that I have ever read. My honors English class read it, and let me tell you that I was quite surprised to see all of the 4 and 5 star reviews that it has been given. Every person in our class of 30 absolutely hated it. Edna was the single most unsympathetic character that I have ever run across. Every moment that I spent reading this book was a moment of both agony and great hope that Edna would meet with a horrible end. I don't care what anybody thinks about individualism, freedom, or feminism (Even the resident feminazi in our class thought that Edna was an insufferable twit, and a terrible role model for feminists everywhere). In fact, Edna was the most ungrateful B**** that I have ever read about. She had next to no responsibilities. She had a nurse to take care of her children, a cook to do the cooking, and plenty of servants to do the chores. The only things that she had to do were be a loving wife and have tea with some of her husband's clients' wives once a week. She decided to blow off both of these duties in favor of- PAINTING! Yes, painting. Oh, and let's not forget having an affair with the town playboy, and trying to do the deed with dear old Robert, who turned out to be about the only honorable person in the book by leaving her. After this terrible "loss," Edna just plain loses it and decides to kill herself. After living a life of luxury with a husband that was good to her even when she was acting in the most embarrassing and dastardly ways, Edna decided that she was, well, unfulfilled, and went off to the sea to end her terrible, sad, meaningless, pathetic life. This was by no means the shocking surprise ending that some have called it.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Many persist in saying that this is a feminist book. It is not. This is a book for men and women, it teaches about integrity of emotion. The evidence that the main character is a woman who leaves her husband in a time when it was taboo is really not enough. Was she particularly courageous, honest or good? No. She was simply a vulnerable woman who was victim to her own troubled sea of emotions. Edna is a tragic figure, she always seems to be searching for something.. and she doesn't know what it is or where to find it. Yet the mere fact that she is searching, that she is open to something greater than the trivialities of life makes her an intriguing character. Edna's viewpoint is terribly colored, however. For to her, it seems as though she is the only one with this sensual longing. She never bothers to give anyone else a chance, and chances are, if they're like the rest of us, they've felt a similar pull at some point. But instead of harnessing this feeling, Edna succumbs to it. She retreats into herself and simply gives up on life. She resorts to shameless pursuit of self, she lives to please her momentary whims. She never considers that her husband loves her or that she has vowed to be faithful. Edna only considers that she doesn't love him, and she will make no sacrifices for anyone else as long as her own debaucheric pleasures are at stake.
If I were rating Edna, I would give her one star. But I'm rating the book, and I must consider that its overall effect was powerful. That Kate Chopin's diction was lyrical and her imagery potent. That the message of this book, though tainted by the miserable and futile Edna, resounds. This is not a feminist message. It means nothing more for women than it does for men.
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By Elizabeth Dalecki on Dec 11 1999
Format: Paperback
Kate Chopin is so talented. The Awakening is a story that one will always remember. Don't just read it once: it ought to be re-read from time to time. I have found new meaning and feeling throughout the years. This version is by far the most economical, and the tale is spectacular no matter it's trappings!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 72 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Edna's Exit: Why? Aug. 25 2006
By Martin Asiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When THE AWAKENING was first published at the end of the 19th century, Kate Chopin was roundly criticized for what her critics saw as her attempts to subvert the "normal" order of the male superiority to women. She found it difficult to find a publisher for her future works, and it took a very long time before this book was resurrected by a growing feminist movement that saw in Edna Pontellier a potent symbol of a woman who was willing to pay the ultimate penalty to shed the patriarchal shackles that bound American women.

Edna is a twenty-nine year old woman, married, has children, and in thoroughly conventional, at least at the start. But Chopin uses foreshadowing to indicate that all is not well in the Pontellier household. Her husband is a much older stuffy bear of a man who thinks in a stereotypical fashion that today's feminists would term male chauvinist. When Edna comes in with a sunburn, he looks at her "as one looks at a valuable piece of property." As long as Edna remains valuable in the sense that she maintains her status of subservience, then as far as he is concerned, all is well with her, and by extension, their relationship. As Edna begins to show slight but measurable changes in her personality, it becomes clear that when he married Edna, he married a woman who was normalized to function only in the narrow confines of her immediate surroundings. But change she does in a way that Chopin ironically notes: "He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him and valued so little his conversation." Not only does Chopin indicate that Edna is drifting away from her husband but also toward a state of depressive non-existence: "An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish." This anguish becomes increasingly pronounced as she attempts to fill the void with an affair with Robert Lebrun, who says that he has fallen in love with her, but he soon enough takes off to Mexico. When she later questions him why he left and why she was the one to contact him, he replied that he loved her too much to maintain contact with a married woman.

The pivotal point occurs at the end when Edna takes off her clothes and strolls out into the sea and drowns. Her motivation is not clear, possibly because Kate Chopin takes the actions of a woman who had been portrayed as strong-willed enough to leave her husband and children, find suitable accommodations for herself, and aggressively pursue the object of her affections. True, he dumps her with a note, which she uses as the reason for her suicide. Was her death wish the result of a woman who has suddenly turned weak-willed enough to allow her depression to overwhelm her or was Chopin using Edna To Make A Statement about the rights of an oppressed gender? No one has yet devised a suitable motivation but her closing call of death serves to warn us that the complexities of an unfulfilled life, when unaddressed, can lead to tragedy. Edna's exit certainly attests to that.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Not a feminist book.. April 17 2001
By Reader55112 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many persist in saying that this is a feminist book. It is not. This is a book for men and women, it teaches about integrity of emotion. The evidence that the main character is a woman who leaves her husband in a time when it was taboo is really not enough. Was she particularly courageous, honest or good? No. She was simply a vulnerable woman who was victim to her own troubled sea of emotions. Edna is a tragic figure, she always seems to be searching for something.. and she doesn't know what it is or where to find it. Yet the mere fact that she is searching, that she is open to something greater than the trivialities of life makes her an intriguing character. Edna's viewpoint is terribly colored, however. For to her, it seems as though she is the only one with this sensual longing. She never bothers to give anyone else a chance, and chances are, if they're like the rest of us, they've felt a similar pull at some point. But instead of harnessing this feeling, Edna succumbs to it. She retreats into herself and simply gives up on life. She resorts to shameless pursuit of self, she lives to please her momentary whims. She never considers that her husband loves her or that she has vowed to be faithful. Edna only considers that she doesn't love him, and she will make no sacrifices for anyone else as long as her own debaucheric pleasures are at stake.
If I were rating Edna, I would give her one star. But I'm rating the book, and I must consider that its overall effect was powerful. That Kate Chopin's diction was lyrical and her imagery potent. That the message of this book, though tainted by the miserable and futile Edna, resounds. This is not a feminist message. It means nothing more for women than it does for men. The message is that we must always strive for the integrity of emotion. That we must force ourselves to reach beyond the superficial in life and grasp the true and lasting. Poor Edna was so close to discovering this, but she abused the longings she felt and misinterpreted them. Perhaps if she'd only had that talk with the doctor.....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Broken Chains March 2 2015
By Brittany Lescroart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This short story is appropriately named as it tells of a young, married woman, who is the mother of two small children, and is depressingly unhappy with her life. Edna Pontellier settled into a life of wife and mother with little enthusiasm. Her husband expects a homemaker, but that role is far from Edna’s mind. He tells her on more than one occasion that her children need a loving, attentive mother and she has not displayed that often enough. She spends the summer at Grand Isle with her dear friend, Madame Ratignolle, who is the epitome of wife and mother. During her stay at Grand Isle, Edna Pontellier falls in love with the owner’s son, Robert Lebrun. Her feelings and desires awaken within her, which have been asleep for many years. The stereotypical life she is bound to live no longer binds her.

I felt sorry for Edna Pontellier that she felt the need to settle into a life she did not love. It was almost as if she were a slave within her own life that she could not break free from. Many times throughout the story, she displayed emotions of severe depression, which was not something that was widely treated during those days. In addition, her actions angered me as the topic of infidelity is not a favorite of mine. Breaking free from invisible chains is empowering, but the provoking reason in this story goes back to deception. Edna is a woman who puts herself before everyone, even her children, without any thought as to the pain it may bring to her family. Infidelity has become a popular topic of today’s books, movies, and television programs. During Chopin’s life, it was widely frowned upon. She took a huge risk in writing this story, and felt the repercussions for a long while.

Kate Chopin’s, “The Awakening”, was written in 1899. The book has several printings, one of which is through Barnes and Noble Classics which include some of Chopin’s other works.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Recommended Read! Dec 6 2013
By Jazzmine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered the book for school, my teacher didn't have enough books for even half the class, so I was a little nervous about how much I might actually like it but it was actually really good. The characters were interesting, plot intriguing; just an overall great read. I would definably recommend this novel to anyone in high school and above. I would only not recommend this to a less mature audience before there is some questioned subjects discussed such as homosexuality and adultery.
27 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Awake Never Again, Vile Temptress June 6 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To begin with, just let me say that I hated this book almost as much as any that I have ever read. My honors English class read it, and let me tell you that I was quite surprised to see all of the 4 and 5 star reviews that it has been given. Every person in our class of 30 absolutely hated it. Edna was the single most unsympathetic character that I have ever run across. Every moment that I spent reading this book was a moment of both agony and great hope that Edna would meet with a horrible end. I don't care what anybody thinks about individualism, freedom, or feminism (Even the resident feminazi in our class thought that Edna was an insufferable twit, and a terrible role model for feminists everywhere). In fact, Edna was the most ungrateful B**** that I have ever read about. She had next to no responsibilities. She had a nurse to take care of her children, a cook to do the cooking, and plenty of servants to do the chores. The only things that she had to do were be a loving wife and have tea with some of her husband's clients' wives once a week. She decided to blow off both of these duties in favor of- PAINTING! Yes, painting. Oh, and let's not forget having an affair with the town playboy, and trying to do the deed with dear old Robert, who turned out to be about the only honorable person in the book by leaving her. After this terrible "loss," Edna just plain loses it and decides to kill herself. After living a life of luxury with a husband that was good to her even when she was acting in the most embarrassing and dastardly ways, Edna decided that she was, well, unfulfilled, and went off to the sea to end her terrible, sad, meaningless, pathetic life. This was by no means the shocking surprise ending that some have called it. I (and the rest of my class) saw it coming a hundred pages away. All in all, this book was a blandly written, sluggish, depressing, and all around poor piece of "literature," that has somehow become famous. I think that calling The Awakening a classic is both a tragedy and a travesty.


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